Review: The Ominous, Enigmatic Darkness Of Nicolás Jaar’s ‘Cenizas’

Nicolás Jaar | Cenizas | Other People

Release Date: 27 March, 2020

Trying to define the auditory personality of Nicolás Jaar isn’t an easy feat by any means; the artist’s distinct prowess when it comes to fluidly blending genres allows for an always alluring expectation of the experimental – not being able to predict the direction Jaar will take next is one of the most exciting aspects of his career.

At only 30 years old – the Chilean DJ, producer and composer has become one of the most beloved artists in (not only) the electronic music community; with critically acclaimed releases spanning across the last decade and his own imprint Other People, the musician is celebrated for his experimental prowess – his willingness to step outside the boundaries of genre, delve into the aspects that interest him and construct something completely unique and engaging.

The dark mysticism of his latest release ‘Cenizas’ is like a narrative of the witching hour; an intricately constructed philosophical journey.

Mud‘ is cloaked in the thick shadows of gothic splendour; the slow, somber drone opening the track creeps anxiously into a rhythm ritualistic in nature – the heavy, pounding beat a deeply haunting introduction. The brooding atmosphere brings to mind a dark religiosity – midnight meetings of figures shrouded in obscurity, esoteric symbolism; Jaar’s enigmatic vocals sunken and grim, eclipsed in nightfall – reverberating amongst sporadic chimes, peering through a hazy, arcane veil. The tone sings reminiscent of a mournful prayer, a choir swaying in a focused trance; Jaar’s use of texture mesmerising in its rhythmic dance, the gradual increase in tempo of the pulsing drum imbued with bewitching shadows.

Haunting harmonies introduce ‘Hello, Chain‘ – phantoms doused in reverberation shape the atmosphere into an ethereal, esoteric chamber; an arcane choir shrouded in a shadow realm – mysterious vocals sing in a spectral unity, ghosts swimming between eerie, swelling synths. The creeping ambience and intricately minimalist aura is structured in such a way that it still manages to cultivate an aura rich and full, despite it’s simplicity; Jaar’s use of silence is especially powerful – as with film scores and artworks, the spaces in between can be just as important as each timbre, the discomfort of sitting with even a moment of ‘nothing’ is a especially compelling. A comforting melancholia slumbers within the kinship of melody and the chorus of vocals – the similarities of which reminiscent of an angelic renaissance choir, a serenity beaming from a gentler realm: closed-eyes, deeply immersed in prayer within the hollow pews of a 14th century church. The mood of ‘Hello, Chain‘ is hypnotising in its sense of drama, a difficult feat in a track that plays out like a slow, gothic dream.

The elaborate animation of the opening beat immediately captures one’s attention in ‘Faith Made of Silk‘ – the intertwining moody aura of rhythmic, vintage percussion is highly unique and poised; the detailed mosaic of timbres fluidly weaving within one another, despite the eloquent complexity inherent in its composition. The delicacy of the percussion is implicative of soulful, lo-fi lounge music – a loving, thoughtful reflection – the tranquil, composed musings of Jaar’s vocals spellbinding in their contemplative nature. The gradual increase in tempo adds an unexpected twist to the track, growing louder and faster – the eager, palpitating drum & bass-esque feel blossoming with adrenaline: surprisingly moving forward as the track effortlessly comes to a close with the abrupt jolt of silence.

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Rating: 9 / 10

Feature Image: Nicolas Jaar via Facebook